An article was recently published by the New York Times entitled Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught? Like everything in the United States’ education system lately, we aren’t just going to ponder this question we’re going to mess around with kids’ emotions and try to figure it out! It might make some emotional Frankensteins and all but it will definitely make for some great data to analyze, won’t it?
Let me back up and give you the premise of the article. It’s difficult for me, as I’m sure it will be for most of the parents out there who don’t buy into psycho-babble, to actually put this article into plain and simple words.
There are foundations out there, such as George Lucas’s Edutopia who believe that kids are not inherently born with the ability to cope or the inability to cope well with social or emotional situations. They believe that by effecting policy change to funnel money into schools to support the teaching of emotional intelligence is a great opportunity to help children.
In fact, the state of Illinois, in 2003, passed a bill to make social and emotional learning a part of school curriculum.
Let’s take a look at how this might look in the classroom, as shown to us in the article published in the New York Times.
A teacher sits his or her students down in a circle and asks them if there is anything that has happened recently at home or at school that has bothered them.
A student reluctantly tells the story of his mom being pre-occupied with her cell phone and yelling at him for interruptions. Now, sad as this may be, because we as adults forget how a child perceives things, it’s not earth shatteringly abusive.
The teacher then guides the child to a correct response to his mother by pretending to be the mother and berating the child to provoke a response.
Reading through the rest of the article with references to research, anecdotes from therapists and the theories of John Dewey was very difficult for someone like myself who has literally spent the last six months of my life deeply entrenched in all things relating to Common Core and data mining; especially the very personal aspects of the data collected on a child’s social and emotional position.
So let’s talk about John Dewey for a second. In the late 19th century, Dewey, a philosopher, argued against the development of purely vocational elementary schools. He insisted that the true purpose of schooling was to train a child in habits of the mind, including plasticity, or the ability to take new information and be changed by it.
Does it sound like Dewey is basically saying that you can manipulate a child’s emotions? I believe it does. As a parent that should scare you. Because teachers often times spend more time with your child then you, as a parent, are able to spend with them.
John Dewey says this in his missive, “My Pedagogic Creed.”
I believe, therefore, that the true center of correlation on the school subjects is not science, nor literature, nor history, nor geography, but the child’s own social activities.”
I’ll put it simply: John Dewey thought that school was to teach children to collaborate, to work together, and be part of the group. Individuality is important, you say? Not according to Dewey.
How frightening that social-emotional learning takes Dewey’s reckless theory even further, suggesting emotions, not just the correct ones, are changeable if properly manipulated.
Viewing this topic from a Common Core data mining point of view it’s easy to imagine a teacher hearing the small boy’s story of his mom being pre-occupied with her cell phone as a sort of neglect and putting that in the child’s file.
Let’s go another step and remember that the child’s educational file is linked to every other government agency in the state and ultimately the federal government.
I’m sure you can see where I’m going with those presumptions. Neglectful mother has children taken away by the Department of Human Services all because someone misconstrued her fascination with trying to beat that particularly tough level of Candy Crush on her phone.
Is that a sweeping argument that makes no sense? Yes. But is it even a remote possibility? Yes.
That thought may be disconcerting to you because it is absolutely possible in this new age of data mining our kids.
But another very disturbing thought is the ability to use social-emotional learning to manipulate, indoctrinate and ultimately turn our own children into psychological pawns or drones for what the Department of Education (read: federal government) is currently spewing forth in the name of a better society for all.
We cannot let our children be abused or taken advantage of in this way. We cannot let them be manipulated and, ultimately I believe, turned away from their parents and family unit for the purpose of a utopian society as perceived by some obnoxious program that turns schools into the perpetrator that seeks to molest the social and emotional wellbeing of children.